Everlasting (Gnaphalium sp.) Primer for the San Gabriel Mountains



Everlastings, or Gnaphaliums, are generally woolly-leaved plants with small clusters of flowers that seem to remain on the plant forever. Gnaphalium is from a Greek word meaning "lock of wool".

Everlastings have bracts or scales, called phyllaries, surrounding the flowers. The flower themselves are extremely small, hard to see and never seem to open wide. But the attractive, shiny, dry, papery scales remain on the plant a long time hence, the name, everlasting. See a diagram of the flower development.

Four different floras or checklists were consulted to make the list below. See the sources and a discussion of the problems with the names here. Not included in this list are pearly everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea, which is not found here in the San Gabriels and strawflower, a commercial plant called everlasting, which is found in nurseries.

The identifications are based mainly on the leaves and phyllary color. Characteristics used in the descriptions are:

1. Is the leaf sticky and green on both sides?

2. Is the leaf aromatic and green or gray-green on the top and white underneath? 3. Is the leaf spoon-shaped (wider near the tip than near the base) and gray on both sides?

Sources and Other Web Information

CalFlora Observation records for the San Gabriel Mountains.

A California Flora by Philip A. Munz, University of California Press, 1968.

The Jepson Manual Higher Plants of California edited by James C. Hickman, University of California Press, 1993.

Go to: Keys to Identifying Selected Plant Groups in the SGM

Copyright © 2001 by Jane Strong and Tom Chester.
Permission is freely granted to reproduce any or all of this page as long as credit is given to us at this source:
Comments and feedback: Jane Strong | Tom Chester
Updated January 24, 2001.